Nebraska truck bills cover texting, medical certification

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/10/2012

Truck issues are expected to get some attention at the Nebraska statehouse during the session that started a week ago. Among the topics that are likely to draw consideration are texting while driving and medical certification requirements.

Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine is the sponsor of a bill to bring the state in line with federal rules on texting while driving truck. Since 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has forbidden truckers from the distracting activity.

Offenders caught texting behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle in Nebraska would face $200 fines. Three points would also be added to licenses. In addition, violators would go under review for possible revocation of their CDL.

Exceptions would be made if texting while pulled over on the side of the roadway.

If approved, the state’s ban would take effect Oct. 27, 2013.

Also included in the bill – LB724 – are changes to commercial driver medical examination provisions. Truckers driving interstate would be required to provide proof from a doctor to state licensing offices that they are healthy enough to get behind the wheel. Failure to do so would result in the loss of commercial driving privileges.

States such as Nebraska have every incentive to adopt the federal rules. Failure to meet deadlines could cost states millions of dollars in federal highway funding.

Another bill from Fischer – LB751 – would authorize officers with the Nebraska State Patrol to inspect the accounts, records and equipment of motor carriers or shippers. Patrolmen would have the authority to enforce federal safety and hazmat regulations.

The bills are in the Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.

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